Real Wedding – Karina & James, Point Lonsdale VIC
Real Wedding – Karina & James, Point Lonsdale VIC
Real Wedding – Karina & James, Point Lonsdale VIC
Real Wedding – Karina & James, Point Lonsdale VIC

Real Wedding – Karina & James, Point Lonsdale VIC

Warm, relaxed vibes and effortless, refined style framed the sweet, natural romance of Karina and James’ wedding celebrations. Describing their inspiration as a high-low mix, they perfectly combined their love of the Point Lonsdale coastal surroundings, dynamic energy and modern, minimalist design to this fresh, dreamy day.

For us, it’s the candidly captivating images of the soon-to-be newlyweds getting ready together that bring the feels. We love a couple who choose to do things their way, and relishing the morning together sans wedding party really set the tone for these two to have their day unfold authentically and with ease.

Karina’s stunning sheath gown from Grace Loves Lace suits the vibe to perfection, with a cascading veil bringing the glam. James’ on-point muted forest suit hits all the hues, perfect against the wild native florals and contemporary timber lines of the venue.

A portrait session absolutely exuding relaxed happiness, shot among the stunning coastal surrounds, is crafted in visual harmony by superstar photographer Jess Nicholls.

Scroll on for a breath of fresh air, wedding style.



The meeting.

We matched on the dating app Bumble. Bumble works in favour of women, so who made the first move? Karina. But it didn’t take James long to ask Karina out for a drink – he knew that if she was talking to him, she was keen, and the feeling was mutual.

Our first date was at a wine bar on the 21st of September in 2017, which, sidebar, just so happens to be the opening line of one of James’ favourite songs: September by Earth Wind and Fire. This ended up being the song for our first dance.


The ‘one’.

It’s not very romantic, but neither of us thinks there was one moment. It was built over time. For James, it was more like incremental pings of ‘Wow, she’s so great’, ‘I miss Karina when I’m away for work’, and ‘Are you even real?’, which accumulated into strong thoughts that he didn’t want us to be apart. For Karina, it was a gradual but consistent build from the moment that we met. Moving slowly but consistently, from spending time together, going on holidays together, moving in together, buying a house together, and deciding to get married. All of these big phases of our relationship felt natural when they happened, and all of them continued to solidify that we had a great relationship.


The proposal.

It’s no surprise that James proposed. And when we say it’s no surprise, we mean it – because James told anyone who would listen that he was proposing – except Karina. A surprise long weekend away in Northern New South Wales was the setting, which occurred during a sunset walk along the beach. James had a silly grin on his face and didn’t say anything when holding out the ring, so amongst the tears, Karina eventually laughed and said, “Well, you have to actually ask”. He managed to do so and also added a beautiful little speech. Karina was excited to tell friends and family, so James had to fess up that he had actually told everyone and anyone, but that they all thought it was happening the next morning. Instead, we decided to keep it to ourselves for the night, enjoying the 18 hours of being the only two people in the world to know that we were engaged – which was the best feeling and such a special time together.


Planning process.

Both of us work in marketing and are classic Virgos, so it’s safe to say the wedding was incredibly organised with a clear vision and a testament to ‘you get out what you put in’. We were both equally involved in the planning process but have clear strengths which enabled easy delegation of tasks.

Handing over our project plan to Emma from Astrid Styling a week out felt like a massive milestone, and from then on, we were relaxed, knowing we had done everything we could and that we were in safe and experienced hands.

When you first get engaged, the idea of planning a wedding feels incredibly overwhelming. Reading up on how-to articles is really helpful to wrap your head around everything that you need to consider. Once you’ve got your vision figured out, then it’s helpful to look at suppliers that have worked at similar venues or in similar styles, and then when you’re a few months out, it’s helpful to look at real weddings to align it with what you have planned or what you might have missed.


Style inspiration. 

When we started talking about the style of our wedding, we knew we wanted it to be a reflection of us as people and as a couple; we wanted it to feel like us. It can probably be best described as a high-low mix: upmarket yet approachable, refined but casual. We very much value quality over quantity, and that value is represented throughout the wedding – from the flowers to the food and the guest list.

We love the nature in Point Lonsdale and the modern architecture of the built surf club, so we knew we wanted to lean into that – woods, native flowers, modern minimalist design.


The ceremony.

The ceremony was incredibly special because Alex from For The Love Celebrancy artfully wove the story of our lives together. Alex’s skills in storytelling meant she was able to highlight the pivotal moments in our relationship and capture the essence of what truly mattered to us and why we had decided to get married. It was heartfelt and funny, creating an unforgettable ceremony filled with reminders of why we love each other and cherished memories.

Standing together at the top of the aisle after the ceremony, with the opening notes of In Love With You by The Paradise playing, grinning at each other and taking it in is not a moment either of us will forget and won’t because we’ve got it captured in photo and on film!


The look. 

Karina: Aligning with our vision of the wedding feeling like us, I knew my dress would be a simple silk slip dress. It wasn’t a surprise to any of our loved ones, and I felt like myself. However, when being simple, it has to be perfect, so finding the right dress was probably the most stressful and difficult part of the entire wedding.

Eventually, I found the right one at Grace Loves Lace, along with colour-matched shoes and the most stunning dramatic silk veil. I originally didn’t want a veil or was going to do a small attachment to my hair, but when I tried on the silk Gabriela veil, it perfectly offset the simple nature of the dress. With the amount of wind we had on our wedding day, boy, am I glad I got such a long veil – such drama!

James: We always knew James would wear a green suit. We just didn’t know how challenging it would be to source. Being quite tactile in wanting to see the end product, which you don’t get with custom, we got lucky when we found a suit from Calibre that met the brief to a tee. Only needing slight alteration, it paired back brilliantly with the setting of Point Lonsdale and the surf club, balancing being both subtle and striking.


Favourite moments.

Deciding to get ready together was definitely the best choice we made. We decided right at the start that we weren’t having a bridal party, but this choice came late in the planning. It was such a relief and reduced a lot of the morning jitters because we just laughed and had fun finishing getting ready. It set the tone for the ceremony and the whole day together.


Meaning of marriage.

We decided to get married because we see it as a formal commitment to each other. Other commitments that you make are commitments to them – to paying off a house, to a child, to going on a holiday. Getting married is the commitment between the two of us that we will be there for each other, continue to choose each other through positive and challenging times, give and receive support, love, and communication to each other; to have someone that will always have your back; someone who will always be down to have fun with you.


Wedding soundtrack.

Aisle: Nothing Else by Julia Stone

Recessional: In Love With You by The Paradise

Reception entry: Freed from Desire by Gala

First dance: September by Earth, Wind and Fire


Planning surprises.

All the small tasks that you have to do add up. Although we felt on top of everything, there was still a constant list of things to do every day/week. All achievable but never-ending! Spreadsheets, Trello boards and a shared email address are definitely your friends.


Words of wisdom.

You set the tone. In every aspect of the planning and the day of the wedding, the attitude and vibe that you bring is what will be reflected back to you by your suppliers and guests. Also, don’t feel like you have to do something just because it’s how most people do it. Think about what you want out of the day and also out of the year you spend planning the day. It’s just one day in the scheme of life, so make it what you want. You control the wedding; the wedding doesn’t control you.

Surprisingly (unsurprisingly?), all the cliches are true – it’s the best day of your life, it goes really fast, it’s expensive but it’s worth it!


Dealing with dollars can be one of the more stressful elements of the wedding planning process. For many, the thought of creating and managing a wedding budget can be enough to send you into full stress mode! But don’t despair, you’re absolutely not alone; we’ve gathered some helpful tips to help you hack your budget and get on to the fun stuff.




We felt really strongly that the people who joined us on the day were part of the energy of the day. Picking our suppliers was based mostly on feeling like they had the same attitude towards the day as we did – people who were authentic and excited but realistic. Where possible, we aimed to engage with local suppliers to the Geelong and Bellarine region. A really great way to discover people was through Instagram or wedding blogs like Ivory Tribe and Hello May – we looked at wedding venues in our area and at all the suppliers they tagged in those posts. Personal recommendations were also a big way we found our suppliers – both from friends and suppliers we had booked. If we had found a supplier that we really got along with, typically, the people they recommended had a similar attitude and energy.

Ceremony & reception venue: Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club. James’ parents live in Point Lonsdale, so we spend a lot of time there and love how low-key and beautiful a setting it is. It’s a small town, so there’s never been a venue that could host a wedding until the new surf club was built in 2021. The architecture is absolutely stunning, having now won a number of design awards, and it met our emotional, aesthetic and functional needs. We were actually the first wedding that they’ve ever hosted, which came with its challenges as we were all learning at the same time, but the payoff was worth it – you’re welcome, future couples, if you have your wedding here!

We’ve been to a number of weddings now and always found it a bit jarring changing locations between ceremony and reception, so we utilised the multiple spaces of the venue with our ceremony and cocktail hour on the grass, our reception in the dining room upstairs and then our dancefloor on the balcony.

We love that this space will be around forever and that we’ll continue to use it well into our marriage, with the memories of our special day entrenched in its history. We all know weddings aren’t cheap, but we appreciated that we were able to support a not-for-profit venue that gives so much to the community. We were able to keep the party going until midnight, meaning we didn’t feel rushed in getting through all the formalities of the evening and could have a proper dance to finish off the night.

Celebrant: Alexandra Baxter, For The Love Celebrancy. A fellow Melbourne transplant in Geelong, we clicked with Alex the moment we met her and loved her Comms background and storytelling narrative. When introducing ourselves, her ability to string connections through our story, which we hadn’t thought of ourselves before, cemented that she was the right person for the job. She meticulously planned, guided us through the entire process and made it all so easy.

Photography: Jess Nicholls. We think Jess’ work speaks for itself, but being in her presence is what you don’t see in the snaps. She is a legend and also guided us brilliantly through the day. Another member of the Geelong via Melbourne crew, we really appreciated sitting down with her a few days out from the wedding to connect in person, which made us feel comfortable and relaxed in her presence, having established rapport. She rolls with the punches and works with what’s there; she just gets to work. She has great advice as a wedding expert, a good eye and is a straight shooter – both with the lens and in how she operates.

Videography: Torres Wedding Films. We heard from friends that the day absolutely flies by and that having a video is key so we can look back and watch and remember the day. While we knew we wanted a highlights video, our key focus was on having our ceremony and speeches captured on video so we could watch back in the years to come. Josue was there with us all day, and he captured the day so organically.

Styling: Astrid Styling. We loved the vibes and the architecture of the surf club and had a vision of what the space could become if elevated a bit, but we needed someone to bring that vision to life. James has done a stint working at Cotton On HQ, where Emma from Astrid Styling has worked, so he knew that she would have the hustle, organisation and resourcefulness to execute the wedding that we wanted, and she didn’t disappoint.

Florist: Charlie and Co Flowers. Living off Pakington Street, Geelong, there’s no shortage of florists at our doorstep, and Charlie was our pick of the bunch. We appreciated how resourceful, sparing and efficient he was in his stunning floral displays, and the boutonnieres for James and our fathers were perfect. Using mostly natives, they dried out fantastically, and we were able to salvage them after the wedding and repurpose them into individual bouquets for our nearest and dearest as a small memento of the day.

Hair & make-up: Studio2. Karina’s usual hairdresser was already booked on our wedding date, but her first recommendation was that Karina had to book Studio2 and that Emma and Renee were the best. Her recommendation was trusted, and it worked out great. Emma and Renee were punctual and efficient and made it really easy to get ready.

Rings: Cameron & Co. The Venus family of Cameron & Co have been friends of James’ for almost 30 years, so there was no question that our rings were going to come from them. James referenced a number of engagement rings as inspiration and then worked with the team at Cameron & Co to design a bespoke ring incorporating elements from the references. For our wedding rings, we selected minimalistic, plain bands – gold for Karina, platinum for James.

The dress, veil & shoes: Grace Loves Lace, with dress alterations at Pearls & Roses. Dress – Summer, veil – Gabriela, shoes – Dita heels.

Suit & tie: Calibre

Groom shoes: Julius Marlow

Catering: Morso Food. We were fortunate to be connected with Dave Powell from Morso Food through close friends of ours, as we needed a food partner who was able to execute in a small kitchen. Dave, being sprightly, resourceful and inventive, made the venue work without compromise to the food and service, and we served roaming canapes during cocktail hour, a family-style banquet featuring roast porchetta, swordfish and a number of seasonal, fresh sides for sit-down mains, followed by floating brioche ice-cream sandwiches and cannoli by the dancefloor. We were extremely conscious of people not leaving hungry, and with nowhere to get late-night food in Point Lonsdale, we sent everyone home with a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. They were a hit!

Bar: Empire of Dirt Wines. We’re passionate about minimal invention wines, and there’s no shortage of amazing ones around Geelong, where we live, so we were amused that the first bottle we opened on our engagement weekend in Northern New South Wales happened to be from Geelong winemaker, Tash Webster’s label, Empire of Dirt. We were instantly drawn to the taste, her brand and ethos. We connected with Tash and arranged for her wines to be served at the wedding – the fun Venom Pet Nat in the sun for our cocktail hour, toasting with her traditional sparkling Emerge during speeches and the tables covered with bottles of the Lyra Chardonnay during our banquet.

Cake: frosted. We honestly weren’t going to get a cake. We had organised desserts with Dave from Morso, so didn’t see the point. About three weeks out from the wedding, we decided it would be cute to have one, but we knew we weren’t fussed about serving it, so we didn’t need enough cake for the whole wedding. This meant we got to have a very on-trend heart cake, with the ultimate opportunity for a cake photo, and we also got to enjoy the cake with both of our families over the following week as we saw them.

Entertainment: DJ – Jonno Heys, For Your Ears. If you frequented Seven Nightclub from 2007-2010, you would have seen James DJing there, but you would’ve really been there for Jonno Heys in the RnB Room, where he had everyone dancing. Jonno continues to hold it down at private events and nightclubs around Melbourne, and his energy was exactly what we wanted for our wedding. James worked closely with Jonno to curate the music throughout the day and into the night. We had RnB slow jams pre-ceremony, disco and funk tunes during cocktail hour, and then the most inclusive dancefloor to send off the night with an explicit brief of making sure our parents were dancing at all times – and he delivered.

Accommodation: Lon Retreat. We’d always wanted to stay at Lon Retreat, but it was hard to justify when James’s folks live just around the corner, so our wedding was the perfect excuse to do so. The rooms are generous in size, so there’s ample space to get ready, and we were extremely grateful that the owners felt comfortable with us using their gorgeous property for some of our wedding photos. We also got to have a well-deserved soak in the mineral pool after our recovery on Sunday.

Honeymoon: Cempedak Island, Indonesia and Singapore

We wanted a mix of exploring and relaxing, so we decided to go to Singapore and nearby Cempedak Private Island. Cempedak Island’s luxe villas with private pools were the ultimate retreat, and Singapore’s many neighbourhoods gave us places to explore and incredible food to eat – all with consistent 30-degree weather!

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